Metal Evolution (2011) s01e04 Episode Script

New Wave of British Heavy Metal

(Fans cheering)
Sam Dunn: So I'm here
in South America to
meet with the members
of Iron Maiden one of
my all-time favorite bands
and is now actually
one of the biggest
bands on the planet.
The thing about Iron Maiden is
their roots lie in a movement
called the New Wave of British
Heavy Metal which was
this explosion of bands back
in the early 80's in England,
but what I never really
understood is what exactly was
the New Wave of British
Heavy Metal and
what's its contribution to the
development of Metal music?
(Fans yelling and chanting)
Sam: Before Iron Maiden
was filling stadiums in
South America, back in 1980
when they released their
first record they were
considered the leaders of the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
or "Nwobhm" as it's called.
But Maiden actually got their
start in the mid 70's and
what I've always wanted
to know is what was the
musical climate was like
in England at that time?
Sam: Why do you think it
took that time to get to
that point and release
that first album?
Steve Harris: I think it
was just purely because of
what was happening, or not
happening in our case
in the music business
at the time.
We were around before the
punk thing but the punk thing
happened around '77, so punk
bands were getting their gigs
and anything that was remotely
more mainstream rock
wasn't even looked at
anymore, so it was really
tough for bands at the time.
I remember going down to
a gig in west London
and we went in there
it was just people divin'
all over the place,
spittin' over the band I just
hated everything about it,
absolutely everything.
Sam: Maybe punk could be
credited with at least bringing
Steve: Nope, sorry can't
credit it with anything.
Sam: C'mon Steve!
Sam: No we hated it, we
absolutely hated it.
Sam: 1977 and punk was exploding
in England and it also happened
to be the same year as the
Queen's silver jubilee
and to take the Pis, the Sex
Pistols famously rented a boat
on the Thames River, but why I'm
interested in Punk is because
there's a lot of folklore
around the animosity
between Metal and Punk
in the late 70's.
So what I want to understand
is what exactly was the
relationship between
these 2 styles of music?
Sam: What was different
about metal compared to
punk in the late 70's?
Rat Scabies: Metal players
have a their metal riffs.
We were much more kind of, not
bluesy but sorta rock and roll
kind of traditional based in
the way we viewed the notes we
played, there was kind of
a great kindred that we had
a lot of The Stooges and The
but the similarities were
really only in volume.
Sam: Why were you ultimately
more attracted to going
the punk direction than
the metal.
Rat: Cause' it was mine.
It was my generation
it was what I wanted to do,
and you know we didn't play
as good as those guys either.
I think we were great because
we could get something out
that sounded like a song.
Sam: Were the metal and punk
fans co-existing peacefully
or was there an actual
real conflict there?
Rat: It's like two
snarling dogs in a cage you
know they'll look at each
other and size each other up
and then after awhile they
kind of back down and
get used to each other
being there and well maybe
his butt doesn't sniff
so bad after all.
John Tucker: Mid-seventies when
it kicked off it was very
much an us or them culture.
You didn't mix, you didn't
attempt to mix and if you did
mix there could be trouble.
I've had bottles thrown at me
as I walked past clubs purely
for the crime of wearing
a denim jacket.
Sam: Being a rock guy yourself
how did you feel about punk?
Dennis Stratton: I hated it.
Yah I don't see the pleasure of
spittin' on people
and things like that. It
ruined proper music.
Metal musicians in England
in the late 70's seemed to
have a very different musical
philosophy than their
punk counterparts, but given
that NWOBHM came directly
on the heels of punk
I'm wondering if all
metaler's shared
this perspective?
So I'm meeting with Brian
Tatler, guitarist for the
influential NWOBHM band
Diamond Head to get a deeper
understanding about how
heavy metalers felt about punk.
Brian Tatler: I liked punk I
felt it was very important for
the music scene I think it got
rid of a lot of the dead wood,
there seemed to be like
prog bands were getting
out of control, bands
like Yes were making
double albums and
triple albums.
You could only see these
bands if you went to see them at
Wembley, they were like
gods from another planet or
something, you didn't breath
the same air as Led Zeppelin but
certainly you could go watch a
punk band in a club it had the
excitement the energy, I think
it gave thousands of kids the
idea that you could go on make
your own music, go get a
guitar, instead of having this
incredible benchmark of say
Deep Purple to live up to.
Certainly I could play the
guitar maybe like Steve
Jones from the Sex Pistols.
Jess Cox: It appealed to kids
you know, kids want noise
and they want power and they
want whatever is the in thing
and that was the in
thing at the time.
Sam: Why were the media and
the labels so infatuated with
this thing called punk?
John Tucker: They want the next
big thing because this will make
them money so when something
happens, and the Sex Pistols
happened big time through their
TV interview everyone thinks
we'll have one of those not
what's happening next,
I want one of those and I
want one of those now.
Sam: People I talk to often
talk about how the punk
explosion was fairly
short-lived. Is that Fair?
Rat: Punk kind of died as
soon as it went mainstream.
Every little (beep) went out and
bought a leather jacket and cut
their hair and put safety pins
through their cheeks I think
they got very focused
on how to be successful.
This is how they do it
you know with pop acts,
this is how it works in
the mainstream we just
have to apply the same
rules to our band.
Mark Gregory: These former,
Anarchists if you'd like,
had become big label
million selling artists.
Out of punk you kind of got the
indie jangly guitar and stick it
with something new and romantic
as well. So there was a
real kind of end point there and
it's alright what's coming next
or what can we do next that's
really going to rock?
By the end of the 70's
punk in England had gone
mainstream and it was no longer
a defiant underground music
movement, so now that punks
authenticity was waning how
would the New Wave of British
Heavy Metal get its start?
One of the biggest legends
in the history of the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
is that it's origins can be
traced to a London venue
called the bandwagon where
DJ and hard rock enthusiast
Neal Kay apparently
kick started the
Nwobhm movement.
Sam: What was the state
of music at that point?
I'm thinking '78, '79.
Neal Kay: It was punk or
nothing at the time and these
rock bands, some of them only
kids they had nowhere to go,
no one to move the product
higher, no one to press it,
print it, release it and
get it there
and it began to get
me really annoyed.
I had always dreamed of a place
whilst working in the London
clubs and going to live gigs
and things there should be rock
available to the people and you
could turn everything around
180 degrees and throw everyone
out that wore a tie and shirt
and demand that jeans only
were worn and only t-shirts.
I had this massive sound system
there, it wasn't a disco tech
club system it was a band P.A.
and it could blow windows out.
What I kind of realized in
the end is that I've grown
a whole culture of rock
and roll loonies.
Neal: I kept phoning up Sounds
which was the big metal rock
paper at the time, in the end
Geoff Barton took notice and I
said to him if you come up you
will not be disappointed I will
show you something you
have never seen before.
Geoff Barton: The concept of a
rock club, full of long haired
wanks you know getting there
rocks off to the likes of
Ted Nugent was pretty much
inconceivable circa 1978, 1979.
Neal: When we saw the results
it was astonishing,
he put a center page double
spread about us in Sounds and
Geoff came to me one day and
said 'Would you be interested
in doing a heavy metal chart
for the paper every week?'
John Tucker: He wasn't just
playing Rush and Judas Priest,
but he would actually take a
chance and throw all this new
stuff into the mix like Praying
Mantis, like Iron Maiden.
Steve Harris: We made a
tape and we took it down to the
sound house to try and get a
gig not for any other reason
really we just wanted to
get a gig there cause' we
knew it was a good place
with cool fans, rock fans.
Neal: Steve said to me
something like do us a favor
take it home give it a listen
if you like it give us a ring
Sam: and when you listen
to the Maiden tape
Neal: We went mad, went
absolutely bezerk.
Steve: He started playing
the tracks off the tape in his
chart, and all of a sudden our
tracks start going up the chart
you know getting crowned as
number 1 and all this stuff.
Me and Paul went down there one
night to see what happened
when they played one of
our tracks, of course we
weren't known yet we just
happened to stand at
the bar and watch what was
going on and the whole
place just went crazy when
the Maiden tracks come on.
Neal: The Maiden tape was
awe-inspiring I don't know how
else to put it. It was a band
waiting to smack the world.
Of course convincing the labels
that was a different story.
Brian Tatler: It was always
you'd aim for a record deal,
a big record deal. You heard
of your EMI's and CBS's
but indie labels came
out around the time of
punk rock it had never
been heard of before.
It gave you an idea that you
could make your own record
and you might be able to
get a distributor and
sell it yourself or sell it
to specialist record shops.
Rod Smallwood: The Soundhouse
tapes I thought well put it out,
cause' punk bands are
putting out their records.
Steve actually did all the
writing, logo's and everything
and then I called it
Rock Hard records
and it was a direct
rip-off from Stiff.
Stiff Records was; if it ain't
stiff it ain't worth a (beep).
Ours was if it ain't rock
hard it ain't worth a.
so yah we took stuff from punk.
Sam: Punk seemed to establish
this DIY attitude, do you think
you were inspired by
how the punk movement
Steve: We were inspired by
nothing in anything to do with
punk we didn't want anything
to do with it at all.
Sam: In terms of the
sound of the band
to what extent were they
coming from a punk tradition.
Kim McAuliffe: When you listen
to a lot of punk stuff it's
quite weak really where as heavy
metal has got a lot more power.
They took this sort of
punk thing and turned
it into heavy metal.
Youngsters coming up
around that time would
have thought I liked rock I like
metal but I can take the speed
because punk bands everything
was quadrupled in speed.
Biff Byford: We loved things
like Sex Pistols we really liked
that first album it did
definitely influence us we just
took all the naft things
and threw them away and
kept the good bits, the punk,
the prog rock, the Sabbath
the you know Led Zeppelin you
know the riff oriented stuff
it all mixed together into a
melting pot and out popped
the New Wave of
British Heavy Metal.
Bringing together the speed
of punk with the heaviness of
prog rock and classic metal, the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
introduced a whole
new sound to rock music
and the movement was starting
to build in London.
But how did this movement
become known as this thing
called the New Wave of
British Heavy Metal?
Neal Kay: I was invited by the
manager of the music machine,
how would you like to put on
your own 3 band show during
the week and I thought yah what
a shot it's going to enable
me to present to the industry
in London new bands.
John: Geoff Barton from the
Sounds was sent along to
review 3 bands; Iron Maiden,
Angel Witch and Samson and a
big double page spread about the
bands and Lewis the editor at
the time added a subtitle; the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
and that was it it
was that simple.
Sam: Do you remember
when you heard the term
New Wave of British Heavy
Metal? What you thought of it?
Rat: Here we go you know,
more (beep) fluffy (beep)
with spandex and les pauls.
Brian: Suddenly there was lots
of bands all over the UK,
nobody was aware of each other
before Sounds kind of tied it
all together we did a little
4-track cassette and sent it
off to Sounds and it appeared in
Geoff Barton's play list that
was such a result you know that
you could do that send it off
and there it was Geoff Barton
liked it, awesome. (laughs)
Dennis: If you looked at
the marquee in 79' and 80'
the punk bands had disappeared
and there was the list of heavy
metal, heavy rock bands from
Gary Moore right through to
Tigers right the
way through to Raven.
Bif: People were fed up with
just having the punk thing, not
everybody wanted quiffed back
hair and looked like a pirate
John: This was the logical
next step to the bands like
Deep Purple, all of us at one
stage were thinking what
would happen next and
now we had the answer.
By the end of the 70's the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
was established as a vibrant
underground movement
and was spreading to local
scenes across England,
but the movement still had not
got the attention of major
labels and this all changed
in 1980 when Iron Maiden
released their seminole
debut record; Iron Maiden.
Sam: Why do you think EMI wanted
to sign the band? Did they see
something in this band or were
you pushing this band on
Rod Smallwood: They
saw one thing
and that's packed
venues going nuts.
Steve Harris: They came
down to the Soundhouse and
saw it was jam packed,
they couldn't get in
in fact they were
stuck at the back.
You couldn't see properly or
anything like that and I think
we were like like the music or
not or bloody hell what's going
on here we better sign them
before someone else does.
Ashley Goodall: It was full of
people wearing red t-shirts with
Iron Maiden on them and just
to the right of the stage
Ozzy Osbourne was there
I remember seeing him.
He looked at the time a little
bit kind of worse for wear
but kind of interested in
it, obviously looking
and thinking hmm new
generation here.
Sam: What do you think you guys
were doing that was different in
those early years compared to
the previous generation of metal
like the Sabbath's and the
Zeppelins and the Purples?
Steve: I suppose there was an
aggression in the music playing
a little faster maybe but we
weren't playing any of the cool
things like the twin guitars and
melody and prog type of stuff as
well time changes and stuff but
with a more aggressive attitude.
John: It was so refreshing
it was so new this was what I
wanted this is what I and so
many people have been waiting
for through those sort of punk
years, this is what the likes of
Judas Priest, um AC/DC had
been prepping us for and
then it came bang and it
was such a great album.
Sam: Another element that
is key on that first
record was of course
that image of Eddie. Why did
that image become so important?
Rod: It was very clear with
the band we weren't gonna get
a photograph of them looking
real scary you know,
all looking real cool,
Maiden's not a cool band,
it's not scary but
it's about music.
You needed something and the way
Roger Dean did Yes not with
a single character but
there were looks and
I was more into getting
a single character.
Dennis: Eddie the Head was a
skull on a plank of wood with a
mouth that use to come smoke
out and I'll never forgot Rob
wanted to call it John or
something like that or Jim Bob
something like that and we
just sat there and we said
his name is Eddie,
he went "why?"
cause' it's a head, he's
a head so its Eddie.
Steve: The fans were going
through record shops and
flicking through the album rack
and whatever and he would
pull out oh bloody hell what's
that and it would be Eddie
on the front and he would turn
it over and see the live thing,
a lot of them say they bought
the album not even knowing
what it was about
because of the cover so
you know it definitely
made an impact.
Sam: It looked kinda punky
though, a little spiky hair.
Steve: Ohh don't
start. (laughs)
Mark Gregory: I think it was
really the first big record
you know top ten album of
this whole new sound,
I guess it would be like the
first massive Sabbath Album
or the first big Zeppelin album,
a bit of a sigh of relief
for fans oh actually
this is gonna work.
Sam: Reading in 1980 you guys
also played and that seemed
to be a pretty
important step forward.
Steve: Obviously a fantastic big
festival being here in '73 to
see Genesis and those bands and
stuff so you know to actually
play there was amazing and the
reaction we got was incredible.
Rod: It was a fantastic show
for us and I think that
took us to another level
plus you're playing
to 30,000 people in one go.
Sam: What do you think is the
significance of the exposure at
Reading is for the
Nwobhm movement?
John: There was a whole raft
of people who were there for
Whitesnake, who were there for
UFO and they can experience
these new bands these bands
who probably bought tickets
for the other things and so
okay this is pretty good,
yah this tugs of pantainment
done really well.
Iron Maiden obviously went
down extremely well,
Def Leppard didn't get in
particularly well
but that's because of the
allegations of sell-out
Jess: There was a big piece in
the newspaper was about them
selling out and they came on and
the reception was horrific,
bottles of pee you know in 2
litre bottles were being thrown
up hitting the stage
exploding over the band,
guys are grabbin paper
and really really bad.
Def Leppards poor reception
at Reading is one of the
most notorious moments in the
history of heavy metal and
the membership in the Nwobhm
movement has long sparked debate
among metal fans, so I'm meeting
with Def Leppard singer
Joe Elliot to get his take
on what exactly happened
at Reading and how it
impacted their early career.
Sam: So how did it feel
to have that backlash
I mean most famously at
Reading you guys weren't
received very well I mean
was that tied into this
Joe Elliot: I disagree
with that actually,
I absolutely disagree with
that reading thing, people go
on and on and on about we didn't
go down well at Reading,
no the reviews said we
didn't go down well at Reading.
The kids throw stuff when
they're drunk, they pee in the
bottles, screw the tops back on
if you're lucky and then they
launch them at the stage cause'
it's something fun to do,
we got that that but so
did everybody else cause'
I watched all the other
bands getting it to.
One guy writes it and
everybody says it gospel
but I'm telling you
now it's (beep).
I think it all came about
because we had a song called
Hello America and they thought
we were that conniving
it's like we weren't even
that clever, you know that
was just a vision of a
kid sitting in a factory
staring at 4 blank
walls with no windows.
I think I wrote the lyrics
to Hello America in 1977
I didn't even have a passport.
Sam: Do you remember the first
time you heard that term
New Wave of British Heavy Metal
and what you thought of it?
Joe: The only thing I remember
is desperately trying not
to be a part of it. Hard rock
covers a multitude of bands
from Van Halen to the Kinks, New
Wave of British Heavy Metal
through start ties you into
being British and in the
mainstream press heavy metal
bands was just thought of
as stupid and I didn't want
us to be a part of that.
I want us to be mentioned in
the same breath as Zeppelin, the
Who, the Kinks, the Stones, the
Beatles, Pink Floyd, these were
all the kind of bands we had
seen the global success that
they've achieved and
that's what we were after.
By the early 80's, Def
Leppard had disassociated
themselves from Nwobhm and
embarked on their quest
for success in America, so now
that Leppard were no longer
part of the movement what
would be the next step in the
evolution of the New Wave
of British Heavy Metal.
With the release of Iron
Maiden's Number of the Beast
in 1982 the New Wave of British
Heavy Metal started to
crack the mainstream and it
was Maiden's new lead singer
Bruce Dickinson that
helped propel the movement
to mass popularity.
So I'm meeting with Bruce to
ask him why he joined Maiden
and what his vocal approach
added to the sound of the band.
Sam: In 1981 you played Reading
with Samson, my understanding is
that Steve and Rod saw
you perform at that show.
Bruce Dickinson: Well they
went there specifically to
see me perform
Sam: Why do you think that
was a significant moment
Bruce: It's when I got the job,
I mean I mean yes I had to wait
3 months until they fired Paul
and in the meantime I did some
singing and they had to go
through a difficult time they
had been unfaithful and had been
waiting for their infidelity you
know they were waiting so they
could have their moment and it's
terrible thing to say
you know but it's true.
Dennis: I think Paul's voice
sounds good with the first album
he struggled with
the second album but if
the band was gonna
break it in America they're
gonna need a singer that
is going to compete with
Ronnie James Dio, Robert
Plant, David Lee Roth,
all of the guys with high
range vocal, if you listen
to any heavy rock any
heavy metal band,
David Coverdale any vocalist
they need to get up there.
Bruce Dickinson: Paul had a very
guttural voice and he had a
style and charm which was
unique, how far it could go
was questionable I think Steve
was questioning that you know
he wanted a voice that could do
a lot with a bigger range.
Steve: Bruce's vocal range was
way different than Paul's and
so we were able to throw
anything at him really and we
Sam: Is there a key
moment when this
New Wave of British Heavy
Metal has reached a peak?
Brian Tatler: I suppose maybe
the peak might have been Iron
Maidens releasing 'Number of
the Beast' and it becoming the
number 1 album and then
appearing on things like Top of
the Pops you know it's kind of
mainstream and getting played
on radio one and most
of the other bands can
only aspire to that.
Gary Holt: There are some bands
that you could hear a thousand
of the greatest bands in the
world and it will never be
magical to you, first time I
heard Iron Maiden you know
it's like hearing music for
the first time you know
you had never heard anything
like it didn't exist.
Scott Ian: Steve Harris's right
hand that is the essence of
heavy metal to me, I'm not even
joking Steve Harris is metal.
When I see Steve Harris
it just
ahh just makes me (beep)
wanna kill people.
Mark Gregory: They became the
classic heavy metal band
but for the new generation
but you could always measure
the bands success by the
size of their light show.
Number of the Beast sold
over 14 million copies
worldwide, solidifying Iron
Maiden as the undisputed front
runners of the New Wave of
British Heavy Metal and one of
the biggest metal bands on the
planet, and in the wake of
Maidens success an army
of Nwobhm fans from
across England and
Europe began to emerge.
Sam: One thing that
characterizes Nwobhm that hadn't
really happened before was the
attitude of the fans at least
identifying as being ok
now we are a metal tribe.
Biff Byford: I think that was
one of the big differences
between our style of music and
the punk side, you know I think
you are locked onto a band
or maybe 2 or 3 bands
and that was your band, you
know that's who you followed
and you wore their
colors on your back.
John Gallagher: You're denim
jackets or your vests and all
your favorite bands were
embroidered on the back and your
mother wouldn't do it so
you had to learn to sew.
All the heavy metal fans were
great with a needle and thread.
Jess Cox: We weren't in big
silvery camps playing drums
out of a giant clam we were
just there that was it
in denim and leather,
or spandex sadly.
Probably for the first time ever
we could punch our fists in
the air and shout about it
and be proud to be wearing
denim and leather and
celebrating heavy metal.
Heavy metal was almost
becoming fashionable.
With the New Wave of
British Heavy Metal fan base
firmly established, many of
Britain's old guard of hard rock
were inspired by the movement
creating some of the
most memorable music
of their careers.
So why did these older bands
catch a spark from Nwobhm?
Rob Halford: It fires you up,
it gets you into like a fighting
spirit when you play hard and
stronger, you feel satisfied
maybe a sense of relief it's not
just us you know this is great,
this band, there's Maiden
there's Motorhead,
you're able to check each
other out being inspired and
to some extent influenced
by about where we were all going
together as bands within
the heavy metal scene.
Sam: Do you think these
older bands were getting
a bit of inspiration?
Brian Tatler: From the newer
bands? Possibly. Yah possibly.
We were inspired by Judas
Priest, but like you say
maybe they listened to the newer
bands as well and thought
well we'll have some of that,
cause' it's fast kids like it.
There was a tour with Judas
Priest and Iron Maiden
That was a big british tour
that was. So there might have
been a bit of checking out each
other, seeing what's happening.
Jess Cox: The bands we were
supposed to wipe away, your
Priests and your UFO's and
whoever else, actually became
bigger because of
those than ever before.
I remember Gary Moore turned
up to one of our gigs at the
Marquee and got up to play
on stage with us because
he wanted to be seen by
whoever was coming up.
John Tucker: In the early 80's,
some of those bands,
established bands came
back with some of their
greatest ever albums
since their debuts.
White Snakes 'Ready
and Willing', AC/DC's
'Back in Black', Heaven and
Hell came out at that time,
Judas Priest all these bands all
of a sudden are getting more
fans because there are things
happening in the urban,
that are bringing
record buyers in,
and I think at the same time
they are raising their game.
Rob Halford: I think it's
fair to say that the New Wave of
British Heavy Metal including
Priest, which is part of the old
wave, we all came together
and that was just like the
dynamite going off. Bang,
we're here, let's go,
we're gonna grow and
this is now gonna be
a worldwide event and it was.
With the legends of British
hard rock now joining
forces with the New Wave
of British Heavy Metal,
the movement had
reached its summit.
But as the 80's progressed
Nwobhm would face a new
competitor for leadership
of the heavy metal genre.
So how would Nwobhm
adapt as the 80's wore on?
With the launch of
MTV in the early 80's,
audiences around the world
were introduced to a
whole new style of heavy
metal, glam metal.
Emerging from L.A.'s sunset
strip, glam metal caused a
major shift in the look
and style of metal.
I've always wanted to know
how the Nwobhm bands
were affected by the
glam metal explosion.
John Tucker: This is new it's
exciting in the same ways
Nwobhm was new and exciting
2 or 3 years back.
They're talking about places
that are weird and wonderful
it's a sunshine environment.
This is different,
this is very different than
industrial British music.
Biff Byford: Things were really
fickle here, things change
really quickly. It's
only a small country.
When the invasion came from
America, I think Van Halen
started it though, Van Halen
were massive long before
Motley Crue, Poison or Ratt
were, people were prepared
for it supposedly let
it in quite easily.
Jess Cox: When these American
acts came over and MTV
came a pair of jeans and
a leather jacket just
wasn't what they
wanted you know.
They wanted the guys with
the big fluffy hair,
spandex pants and the Motely
Crues of the world and
the Poisons and whatever
else fit right in there.
Rod Smallwood: They became not
about music, it became about
getting your tits out on TV,
we didn't do the love songs
or ballads, and we sure
as hell weren't gonna
prance around with a bunch
of semi-clothed tarts.
Sam: Did you feel a sense of
pressure to fit into that
mold and that American
look and American sound
John Gallagher: I mean it was
like put make-up on, why?
Makes your eyes look bigger
from a distance, (makes noises)
and it wasn't just us,
it was everyone.
You look at pictures of Ozzy
he looks like Shelly Winters.
John: A lot of bands did
try to sound American,
a lot of the later bands on
Meat records for example,
would try a key board driven
sound, the harmony's,
the softer more radio
friendly approach.
Jess: The first words out of the
producers mouth when I walked in
to do the wildcat album was to
do harmony's, I'm like what?
Harmony's? We're and English
metal band we don't do
John: For a band that had been
over here all this time,
to try and rustle up some
harmony's and go for
a glossier production
was quite alien.
I think Leppard did it cause'
they were over there and they
were absorbing the influences
and absorbing the sound.
One british band who
flourished in the MTV world was
Def Leppard. Their 1983 album
'Pyromania" hit number 2
on billboard and went ten
times platinum in the US.
So I've come to California to
meet with Def Leppard guitarist,
Phil Collen, to get
his insight into why
Leppard were able
to crack America.
Phil Collen: You have to
charge it up normally,
it might have a
mild glow to it.
Sam: Awesome. Would you
play like a trademark
Leppard riff for us,
something off Pyromania?
Something a little old school.
(Phil plays guitar)
Sam: Was it that melody
in Leppards music
that you think basically set
you apart from Nwobhm
or were
there other things to it?
Phil: Well I think takin' a
shower was a lot different.
The guys in Def
Leppard took showers,
it was cleaner, it
was clean cut.
Most of the guys that were all
leather jackets and greasy hair
it was all waaa, very working
class although Def Leppard
was that as well but it
was more song orientated
and melodies and
stuff like that.
I don't think Def Leppard got a
fair shot in the earlier days,
everyone says you guys are lame
and all this stuff, it wasn't
they were just trying to do
things a little bit different.
Sam: I remember Pyromania I
played it so many times on
the cassette I couldn't read
the song titles anymore
you know cause' you'd
worn it down so heavily.
Why was that record such a
success thinking musically?
Phil: It was AC/DC meets Queen.
You know cause' a lot of the
time people stay in one camp,
they go I wanna be like
AC/DC, I wanna be like Queen.
The whole thing was
make a rock version
of Thriller where
it crosses over.
Joe Elliot: It was so
brilliantly produced that day
time pop radio would play it,
even though it was "hard rock".
It didn't offend, if it was
gonna offend anybody it would
have been offending those
in the hard rock fraternity.
John: I talked to people who
were in bands down in London,
and "ohh we heard the demos
for Pyromania it sucks,
it horrible it's
all the producer".
Hey, I'm sure there crying
all the way to the bank.
Sam: Going full circle to
the whole Nwobhm thing,
you'd fully transcended
that by this point.
Joe: We had left it far
behind us and that at that
time was great because we
were a standalone band,
we were just this British
invasion part 2.
There really hadn't been a band
from England to break America
since those heavy days of the
Stones, and the Beatles,
and the Who and Zeppelin that
had really beat any
rock bands sell records in
Not to the amount that
we were selling.
While Def Leppard was
conquering America and
Iron Maiden was touring the
world, most Nwobhm bands
didn't survive the Glam
metal invasion and by
the mid 80's the movement
went into sharp decline.
But then something happened,
a band emerged from America
that would continue
the legacy of Nwobhm.
That band was Metallica.
Lars Ulrich: Metallica
started out as a cover band,
and some of the bands
we were covering obviously
became significant influences.
We didn't tell people they were
our songs, but we didn't tell
people they weren't our songs.
Here's a song called 'Am
I evil', we left out the
"by the band Diamond Head"
that somehow got edited out
and then we played
'Am I Evil' and then
everyone was having fun
and it was all good.
Lars: As we started writing
our (beep) was kind of derived
out of those songs, it was
Diamond Head, Motor Head,
it was certainly some Maiden,
some Judas Priest you know
certainly that was the stuff
that sort of fueled us.
Sam: This next generation
of young thrash musicians,
why were they inspired by
what you guys were doing?
Brian Tatler: I can only think
the speed, Lars came to see
Diamond Head it was what he
wanted Metallica to be, we want
to be as fast as Diamond Head,
write these long songs and be
exciting good musicians, but
not just you know do the
doomy stuff that Sabbath
has already conquered
that's their territory already,
so theres a new territory here
where everythings a lot faster
and a lot more exciting.
John Tucker: This is the point
where you go from small bands
doing their own thing, if you
get signed your Maidens,
your Leppards, and then from
then on you hit America
you hit Metallica and bang
from that moment on you got
thrash metal, black metal, doom
metal it all happens and that's
why I think it's a critical
point in musical history.
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